MOD working
Maj Navdeep Singh (Retd) Vrc

On numerous occasions I’ve pointed out on this blog and OPeds as to
how lower level functionaries in the Defence Ministry are making a
mockery of the system and ensuring that benefits and welfare related
schemes for defence personnel, disabled veterans and military widows
are surgically scuttled before they reach the tables of decision
makers. The minds of the competent authorities are confused and
breached by these mischief mongers in a way difficult to describe.

Earlier this year, I had pointed out to Sh AK Antony how the system
was being taken for a ride by some of the officers in the MoD, but
despite the fact that the Services HQ officially and in writing agreed
with what I had stated, the officers in question were not confronted
or taken to task, of course which is in line with the best traditions
of the Ministry of Defence.

I am left with no option but to describe in detail to the readers of
the blog the contents of my letter and demonstrate how certain
quarters of the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) of the
Ministry of Defence have not only misguided the Defence Minister of
this country but also the judiciary and Parliamentary bodies. When the
top political executive and constitutional bodies can be hoodwinked,
the fate of the foot soldier or his family can well be imagined.

Please spare a few moments and go through my below reproduced letter
minutely. It may be noted that my letter was not just based on hearsay
but substantiated with evidence on each and every point by way of
certified annexures and appendices. And this my friends is only the
proverbial tip of the iceberg.


A. The Raksha Mantri
B. The Chief of the Army Staff
C. The Defence Secretary
D. The Secretary, Ex-Servicemen Welfare (ESW)

                                        04 Jan 2012


1.    Being involved in, and as a keen observer of pensionary and
welfare-related policies for defence veterans, I am perturbed by
certain events at the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) of
the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which, crudely put, are resulting in the
entire department being held ransom by its staff at the lower rungs.

2.      It is no secret that despite the well-meaning intentions of
the Raksha Mantri and the higher echelons of the Ministry of Defence
in general, and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare in particular,
defence veterans remain unhappy with the functioning of the system
with regard to their welfare and pensionary benefits. The reason is
not far to seek – the entire set-up and the purpose for which it had
been conceptualised has been hijacked by lower level functionaries of
DESW who not only scuttle every single positive move, including those
emanating from the top, but also derive sadistic pleasure out of doing
so. And in the process, this has not just harmed the interests of the
veteran community but has also resulted in deception of the political
executive, the Services HQ, top brass of the MOD, judicial bodies and
even the Parliament.

3.     What I have said above is not merely hearsay but the reality.
If you could kindly carefully peruse the points enumerated below with
specific incidents and the documents annexed herewith which would
substantiate what I say, it would be crystal clear that efforts
originating from all stake-holders have effectively been sabotaged by
a couple of officers who are involved in making false and incorrect
noting-sheets for perusal of the competent authorities and who seem to
be running the show, with all others, you and me included, ultimately
becoming puppets in this gloriously deleterious spectacle.

4.      I would like to particularly point out issue-wise the
following to you, with evidence:-

(a)  The issue of grant of pension of regular Naib Subedars to those
Havildars who were granted the Honorary Rank of Naib Subedar,
misleading statements made before the Supreme Court and back-tracking
thereon :

·         As you may be aware, the 6th Pay Commission recommended and
the Govt implemented the grant of pension of Naib Subedar to Havildars
granted the honorary rank of Naib Subedar, but the same was only done
for post-2006 retirees. The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) at Chandigarh
however held that the same needed to be notionally extended to
pre-2006 retirees also. The judgement of the AFT was affirmed by the
Supreme Court and thus attained finality. Against legal opinion, the
DESW however still insisted on filing more appeals before the SC on
the same subject and in one of the cases, the Department made the then
Solicitor General record a misleading statement before the Court that
the said benefit was only extended to those Havildars who were granted
the Honorary rank prior to retirement (See Appendix A) and hence
should be restricted to only such cases.

·         The truth however is that the said Honorary Rank of Naib
Subedar is ALWAYS grantedAFTER retirement and never prior to
retirement. The Army HQ protested in writing about this misleading
statement (Appendix B) time and again requesting for rectification,
and so did some ex-servicemen organisations (Appendix C).  However, no
action was taken by the lower staff of DESW. When questioned under the
RTI Act (Appendix D) as to who had briefed the Solicitor General into
making the said incorrect statement and whether the Army HQ or any
other organisation had taken up the case for rectification, one Sh
XXXXX, Under Secretary of the DESW, falsely replied (also Appendix D)
that the department had not briefed the Solicitor General into making
the statement before the SC and that the Army HQ or any other
organisation had not taken up the issue with the DESW regarding the
incorrect statement made before SC for correction.

·         This reply of Sh XXXXX, the appendices obtained under the
RTI Act from the Services HQ would show, is utterly incorrect since
the case was repeatedly taken up by various authorities for
rectification with even the then Secretary approving it, and the sad
part of the entire issue which becomes clear fromAppendix B is that
the above named XXXXX was fully in picture and was one of the
signatories on the oscillating minute sheets on the subject. The
question then also arises whether the Solicitor General could have
acted in vacuum on his own in making an incorrect statement without
any briefing by the DESW?, which naturally is not possible. It is
clear from the above that the Army HQ and also other organisations had
promptly taken up the issue but still Sh XXXXX not only provided false
information under the RTI Act but also kept the entire system, the
Solicitor General and also the Supreme Court in the dark about the
reality even on being pointed out. What did he gain by cheating poor

(b)  Statement before the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the 15th
Lok Sabha tabled on 03-08-2011 related to the pendency of cases :-

·         A report appeared in the media that a statement was made
before the Parliamentary Standing Committee that only 303 judgements
passed by Courts / Tribunals had not been implemented by the MoD and
the blame for lack of promptness of implementation was tacitly put on
the Army HQ. Firstly, the number of 303 is totally incorrect. The
actual figure must be more than 2500. (It would be in the fitness of
things if you could call for the figures from all Services HQ).
Secondly, when the MoD was confronted under the RTI Act with this
news-report, a reply was initially given that no such statement had
actually been made and that a reply was merely in the drafting stage.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat however provided a full copy of the
statement which is annexed asAppendix E in which the Army has been
blamed for non-promptness in implementation of judgements. Thirdly, it
is common knowledge that it is not the Army / Services HQ who delay
matters but the DESW, which, due to over-reliance on opinion of lower
level staff does not take decisions on cases projected by Services HQ
for policy resolution after judgements on particular subjects by
judicial bodies. RTI replies have shown that multiple issues referred
by the Services HQ are pending for resolution at the DESW even
afterin-principle approval by the Secretary ESW. It is also learnt
that the Defence Secretary had been informed, just before Mr Chaterjee
took over as Secretary DESW, that all judgements have been implemented
and no contempt petition was pending. This is also far from the truth
and it is a fact that 90% of judgments are not implemented unless a
contempt or execution petition is filed thereby leading to
multiplicity of unnecessary litigation.

(c)   Spreading canards amongst veterans that it is the Army HQ which
files appeals in verdicts favourable to ex-servicemen and not the MoD

·         It is again common knowledge, as also explained in the
preceding paragraph, that the Services HQ have time and again
projected many cases to the DESW involving amendment to policies
adversely commented upon by Courts and the stake holders. The Services
HQ have also many-a-times recommended and directed that appeals should
not be filed in certain pensionary matters but still the DESW has
remained adamant opining that its policies are sacrosanct and that
judicial pronouncements are not correct. Not only that, ex-servicemen
organisations are being informed that the MoD has always remained in
favour of implementing judgments and not filing appeals and it is the
Army HQ which files appeals. Moreover, as explained in the earlier
paragraph, various important policy decisions are pending with the
DESW which are not being resolved despite requests by the Services and
affected veterans. It is being officially incorrectly portrayed that
appeals are filed only on recommendations of the Services HQ in
consultation with Ministry of Law. This stand has not only been
mentioned in meetings but also expressed in writing; one of the
examples is attached as Appendix F.

(d)   Evidence of wrong file-notings leading to skewed decisions by
competent authorities, with special reference to the ‘broad-banding’
case :-

·         The lower staff of the DESW prepares false and incorrect
file notings which lead to clouded decision-making at the top. It is
well appreciated that senior officers do not have the time to go into
minute details of all issues but the least that can be done is that
stake-holders could be consulted as is being effectuated by the
Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) on the civil
side leading to a democratic decision making process, and the amount
of application of mind could be intensified. One such glaring example
is the subject of ‘broad-banding’ of disability element of pension
which was introduced to curtail medical subjectivity and which was
only extended by the MoD to invalided outpersonnel and not to
superannuated personnel or those who were released on completion of
terms of engagement.

·         This was done despite the fact that unlike the civil
services, defence pensionary rules ordain that all personnel who are
released in low medical category are to be deemed as invalided out
from service for disability pension purposes. Moreover while issuing
the policy; it was probably not appreciated that medical subjectivity
and rigidity in calculating disability percentage equally afflicts
invalided out as well as other personnel who are released with a
disability pension. It is important to point out that till the 5th
CPC, invalided out and other released / retired / discharged personnel
of the defence services were receiving an absolutely equal amount of
disability element, but this long standing parity was disturbed by
introduction of broad-banding only for one section, that is, invalided
out personnel.

·         What is disturbing in this issue is the fact that again the
above mentioned official XXXXX, Under Secretary in DESW, prepared a
noting sheet in one of the cases (obtained under the RTI Act and
attached as Appendix G) in which he falsely and wrongly stated that
disabled personnel who are released / superannuated / retired /
discharged are not even entitled to normal disability element of
pension but are entitled to only to a lumpsum compensation. This false
observation went upto the top and was not questioned and was
ultimately accepted.

·         The truth however is that all personnel retiring with a
disability connected with service are entitled to disability element
and the controversy was only restricted to broad-banding which had
been granted after 1996 only to those who are invalided out. Disabled
personnel however do  have an option of lumpsum compensation but that
is in lieu of disability element and if at all such an option is
exercised, then disability element is not admissible (See Paras 8 & 9
of MoD Letter dated 31st Jan 2001- extracted as Appendix H). Hence
lumpsum compensation is not mandatory but optional. Nobody in the
chain ever questioned this officer as to how he made such a false

·         It is also learnt that despite the fact that two judgements
have been rendered in favour of veterans on the subject of
broad-banding by the Supreme Court (Civil Appeal 5591/06 KJS Buttar Vs
UOI allowed on 31-03-2011 and Special Leave to Civil (Appeal) CC
5450-5451 UOI Vs Paramjit Singh decided on 04-04-2011) and the fact
that the Army HQ has refused to file appeals in cases of similarly
affected personnel, still again based on incorrect noting sheets the
staff of DESW is trying its best to mislead the system by convincing
to file appeals in the SC which is not only morally, but also
ethically incorrect. While vide Appendix Fit was publically stated
that it is only on the asking of the Army HQ that appeals are filed,
here is a perfect example where the DESW is going out of the way
against disabled veterans despite refusal of the Army HQ in this
regard and despite authoritative latest SC rulings. I would also like
to point out to you that the predecessor of the current Secretary ESW,
Ms Neelam Nath, at one time had approved in principle an amendment in
policy in this regard but again her approval was scuttled by
misleading notings on file portraying that personnel who retire with a
disability are not entitled to disability pension at all and hence
broad-banding is not applicable to them.

(e)  Exaggerated and misleading public projection and wrong inputs to
the Defence Minister :-

·         It would not be an understatement to suggest that most of
the notings sent upwards play havoc with the understanding of the
senior staff. Even the Raksha Mantri is not spared by spin-doctors in
the DESW. To take a recent example, in speeches prepared by the DESW,
the Raksha Mantri, on more than one occasion (Appendix I) stated in
public that ‘keeping in view the valour and sacrifices of defence
personnel’, the Ministry had decided to provide them with Rs 3000/-
per month as Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA) and disability /
war-injury pension. What is objectionable is the fact, that firstly,
CAA, war-injury pension and disability pension have been admissible
from times immemorial and there is nothing new in these concepts.
Secondly, CAA is also now admissible to civil central govt employees
and has no connection with ‘valour and sacrifices of defence
personnel’. Thirdly, CAA is not granted to all disabled personnel as
projected but only to those who are 100% disabled. Fourthly, it is not
the DESW that had enhanced the CAA to Rs 3000/- but the same was done
on recommendations of the 6th CPC and it was equally done by the DoPPW
for civilian pensioners also. Fifthly, even the concept of disability
pension is not unique for the defence services and has been in vogue
since the 1930s for civil pensioners too under the Central Civil
Services (Extraordinary Pension) Rules.

·         Hence when the senior most political executive in the
Ministry can be made to believe and project wrong facts, God save the
others !!!.It has been the constant endeavour of certain elements to
make the public believe that the DESW is going out of the way for the
welfare of veterans while the truth is, especially as explained above,
that most of these benefits are already available to civilian
employees also, and on the contrary, a majority of welfare related
moves reach a road-block at the lower level of the DESW. It is the
will of the bottom of the chain that ultimately prevails.

(f)  False statement before the Parliamentary Committee on Petitions
of the Rajya Sabha (142nd Report) submitted on 19-12-2011:-

·         While dealing with the subject of enhanced pensions for
defence personnel, the DESW pointed out (See Para 6.1, enclosed
asAppendix J)  that they were faced with an administrative difficulty
in processing the case for One Rank One Pension (OROP) since documents
of defence pensioners are destroyed after 25 years. This statement is
incorrect, false and misleading. Documents are destroyed after 25
years ONLY in respect of NON-PENSIONERS as per Regulation 595 of the
Regulations for the Army. Moreover the Pension Payment Orders (PPOs)
are retained during the entire life-time of a pensioner and then the
family pensioner. Was the DESW attempting to project that pensions for
defence personnel are stopped after 25 years since the documents are
destroyed?. The aim behind such a banal statement cannot be
understood. If a particular pensioner is being paid pension on the
basis of a PPO, naturally his/her rank and length of service would be
available in the records. The officer responsible for preparing this
excuse of 25 years which is not applicable at all to pensioners should
be taken to task for attempting to mislead a Parliamentary Committee.

(g)  Non-adherence to National Litigation Policy and misleading
statements before the Courts apparently because of incorrect briefing
of govt counsel by the DESW : -

·         The National Litigation Policy promulgated by the Law
Ministry provides that the Govt shall be a reluctant litigant in
pensionary matters, but the same has not had any effect on the DESW.
Moreover, the DESW staff has a history of wrongly briefing Govt
counsel on matters of pensionary benefits in Courts thereby leading to
decisions which are based on incorrect or incomplete facts. The most
recent example has been enumerated in point (a) above and a list of
such decisions is enclosed as Appendix K.

·         Some examples are as follows – In Secy MoD Vs Ajit Singh, it
was stated before the SC that the person involved was not entitled to
disability pension since he had less than 10 years of service. The
reality is that there is no requirement of minimum service for
disability pension. In UOI vs Jhujar Singh where the SC was examining
the grant of disability pension on account of an injury sustained on
leave, the Court was not informed about similar SC decisions in the
past.  In UOI vs Ajay Wahi, the SC was not informed that the impugned
rule that was being examined already stood amended, and so on.

(h)  Finding Excuses to put in limbo all welfare related proposals
projected by the Services HQ and Ex-Servicemen Organisations :-

·         The lower staff of the DESW looks for excuses to either
reject or to procrastinate on the proposals related to welfare of
veterans. This is clear from the fact that more than 20 pension
related proposals, some supported by authoritative verdicts of Courts,
remain pending for issuance of policy decisions by DESW. One of the
oft used delaying tactic is that opinions are sought from the office
of the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) or the Principal
Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) which are merely auditing
and accounting agencies and have no role to play in policy formulation
or decision making. In fact, most of these agencies view such issues
from a narrow and restricted point of view and are reluctant to have a
positive outlook.

·         On the civil side, is it ever expected that the DoPPW would
seek opinion from the Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO) for
taking such decisions? This, of course, is never the case. The
openness and democratic system of functioning reflected by the DoPPW
runs counter to the attitude of the DESW. While the former runs on
Result Framework Documents (RFD) in which the time-period of decision
making is completely defined, the latter runs on the ‘delay and deny’
spirit at the lower level. While the former places all important
meetings, policy decisions and govt letters on the internet on the
very day of issuance, the DESW does not even ensure their physical
circulation to stake-holders or agencies. Again, the will is not
lacking at the higher levels, but the system is being held at ransom
by lower level officials and their ability to record false and
incorrect notes.

5.      The idea behind informing you about the above is that it may
kindly be ensured that all of us do not become pawns in the hands of a
couple of officers who are bent upon taking the entire system for a
ride. Governance should not become a joke and our thought-processes
may not be mortgaged to mischief-mongering of a handful.  Most of such
officers are resentful of the fact that the govt bestows upon defence
personnel certain additional benefits which are not available to
civilian personnel. Petty issues such as availability of subsidised
liquor and groceries from Canteens become pin-pricks and encourage
sadism. Moreover, since the Department has not, as a matter of
practice, made any of the stake-holders a party to the decision making
process, the voices of end-users remain unheard and this has a
disastrous effect because the ones making noting-sheets are not
affected by any of the policies under examination and thus take no
interest in positively dealing with the same. The situation is reverse
in the DoPPW on the civil side where the ones processing and taking
policy decisions are themselves affected by the policies they are
dealing with.

6.     It would be in the fitness of things if you could kindly take
personal interest and go into details of this subject, inquire into
the matter and take action against officers who have deceived the
Parliament, the Courts, the MoD, the defence services, defence
veterans and the public at large. That would be the greatest service
to the nation and actual ‘welfare’ to ex-servicemen which in theory
has been envisaged by the so-called well-intentioned but poorly
executed Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.

                                                            Thanking You,

                         (Navdeep Singh)

Copy for independent action to :

1. Chief of Air Staff
2. Chief of Naval Staff
3. Rajya Raksha Mantri
4. Adjutant General
5. Director, PS-4 (Legal)
6. Secretary (Personnel)
7. Secretary-in-Charge, DoPPW